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A Letter to Anorexia

13th May 2019

Many people that suffer with an eating disorder have different ways of dealing with it, sometimes considering it to be a living being. Personally, I do not like to think of it as that. I found that if I started to consider it as a living being, then it became more real and less detachable. However, for the purpose of one of my therapy projects in hospital, I had to write a letter to Anorexia on Wednesday 29th July 2015.

Dear Anorexia,

I cannot imagine the elation you felt when I accepted you as a friend all that time ago. How could I not? You possess all the qualities I look for in a friend- loyal, encouraging and supportive.

I cannot fault your loyalty. You have stuck by me when at times I felt like I had no one else to turn to. When I was coping with academic pressure at school, college and university, you were the one thing I could confide in that made me feel like I had some stability and order in my life. This brought me great comfort, in the knowledge that I had something that I had control over and something I could make a success of.

Your ability to encourage is second to none. I have not met anybody else in my lifetime that has the ability to convert somebody’s way of thinking so dramatically in such a short space of time. For example, who knew that one day I would be enjoying a slice of cheesecake, and the next your wise words would prevent me from going anywhere near one for 3 years.

You have always been there to support me. Whenever I would even consider focusing on anything else I enjoy, you would continuously make an appearance just to remind me you are always there. If I intended to go out for a meal with family, you always supported me, guiding me into doing research on the menu beforehand, just in case I pick something that would send me over my daily calorie limit.

Without you being present in my life for the past few years, who knows where I would have been? What I would have done? Who I would have become?

Well I know one thing for sure, I would not have been sat writing this letter on my bed, as an inpatient in an eating disorder unit.

It is only now that I am receiving help from a hospital team that are loyal, encouraging and supportive in the right way, that I can finally see your true colours. Your manipulative ways have clouded over my ability to identify what you really are, and consequently my life has suffered significantly because of this. Not only have you impacted immensely on my physical health, but also the damage you have done mentally is something that is probably going to cost me another few years of my life in recovery.

When I think of all the things you have taken away from me, I do not even know who I am anymore. Who is the real Jess? Right now she is isolated, immobile and irritable. She doesn’t have determination to achieve her career goals and travelling ambitions. She doesn’t have the confidence to engage in social activities, and even if she wanted to, I can guarantee that you would be there to remind me of your existence.

But right now I have the ability to change all that with the guidance and aid of all of the staff members on the ward. So as an individual, I have access to the short-term support I need to be as deceitful to you as what you have been to me. However, the one thing that will infuriate me for the rest of my life is the effect that you have had on my family and everybody else around me. The fact that you have left a negative impression on me is something that I can cope with, but it is not fair on everybody else.

The way that you have managed to worm your way into every aspect of my life and have such a detrimental impact on everyone that I love is inexcusable. Unfortunately for you, I have the most incredible family that has supported me continuously, even when I have treated them in unforgivable ways. I can’t say that it has all been down to you, but I think it would be fair to say that you have been a huge contribution to my mood swings and irritable behaviour.

All this time I believed that you were something that I had control over. However, after writing this letter, I can see that this could not be further from the truth. You have all the control. You found me at a time when I was most vulnerable and ceased the opportunity to add me to your never-ending list of sufferers. Except now I am ready to embrace the long journey to recovery and cut all ties with you. I know that you will try and make an appearance at various stages of my life, but hopefully I will have the strength to push you away and remember this moment in my life and the feelings I am experiencing towards you.

In a way I want to say thank you. You have proven to me exactly what a friend shouldn’t be.

Yours sincerely,

Jessica Mell

Jessica Mell